The initial move to form a public library in Seattle came only 17 years after the first white settlers arrived on the shores of Puget Sound. It was July 30, 1868, when 50 residents of the rough-hewn logging town gathered to form a library association, good intentions that produced only minimal success over the next two decades. A new Ladies Library Association in 1888 provided the strongest foundation yet for The Seattle Public Library. In 1890, the city established the Library as an official city department, designated to receive 10 percent of the amount raised by city licenses and fines.
The new public library opened in 1891 on the fifth floor of the Occidental Building in Pioneer Square. A lumber company vice president borrowed its first book, a brand new copy of Mark Twain's "Innocents Abroad." [http://www.spl.org/default.asp?pageID=about_history_history]